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  • Ryszard Zadow

2024 Rutan Reunion Flight: Meet Zach Reeder and the CatBird!

The Beechcraft Bonanza is considered a cornerstone of general aviation aircraft and many revere it as one of the best. First introduced in 1947 and over 17,000 variants have been produced, yet it was almost replaced by something that could fly circles around it. Rutan model 81 “Catbird” is an all composite, 5 place, turbo-charged multiple world record holder, and \there’s only one of them!

It was designed by Burt during a time when Beechcraft had an interest in Scaled Composites and intended to be the replacement for the Bonanza. Burt brought the Catbird to Oshkosh for the first time in 1988 and like most of his designs it was stunning and hardly conventional.

He flew it for several years and then, hung it from upside-down from the ceiling at his Scaled Composites facility. Shortly before Burt retired, Zach Reeder, Jim Reed and Mike Mellvill got it down from the ceiling and it still flies today.

It was last seen at AirVenture in 2019 when Rutan Aircraft Flying Experience first debut in the airshow and presented the first Rutan Reunion Flight. It made the cover of Sport Aviation as part of RAFE’s formation flight. This year it will return to be part of the 2024 Rutan Reunion Flight and help celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Varieze and the Composite Canard Revolution. It will be on display in Boeing Plaza on Burt Rutan day, July 22, 2024.

Meet Zach Reeder and the Catbird:

See you at OSH!

Ryszard Zadow

Founder and President, RAFE

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